Seven Hills - Grantham Poultry Research Station | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Seven Hills - Grantham Poultry Research Station

Item details

Name of item: Seven Hills - Grantham Poultry Research Station
Other name/s: Seven Hills Agricultural Station, Grantham State Poultry Farm
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Scientific Facilities
Category: Experimental Station
Primary address: 71 Seven Hills Road, Seven Hills, NSW 2147
Local govt. area: Blacktown
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT360, 361 and 362 DP48686.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
71 Seven Hills RoadSeven HillsBlacktownPROSPECTCUMBERLANDPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
NSW Department of Primary IndustriesState Government 

Statement of significance:

The former Grantham Poultry Research Station has historic and social significance as the focus of the poultry industry in New South Wales for over 70 years. Operating as an experimental farm under the NSW Government. The property strongly reflects government support and initiative to further the efficiency and productivity of the poultry industry. The scientific research undertaken on the property, particularly research into manganese and vitamin deficiencies in food and their effect on hatchability, effectively saved the Poultry Industry from ruin and brought international acclaim, establishing the estate as one of the six leading poultry research stations in the world. The estate also has State significance, presumed to be the only poultry research station in New South Wales. The site illustrates the changes in agricultural use and government policy, from its operation as a private farm to its development under the Soldier Settlement Scheme, and its subsequent operation as a series of governmental research stations including its establishment as a model poultry farm. Since the time of early grants and ownership, the property has a continuity of use as a working farm. The site is one of the largest open spaces in the area and contains a number of significant mature trees comprising a remnant tract of the Cumberland Woodland Plain. The two farm residences, Melrose House and Drumtochty, and the Old Feed Shed have aesthetic significance as good examples of rural structures that remain attached to their original farm property, providing an important link to the early history of the area. (National Trust of Australia (NSW) 1997)
Date significance updated: 11 Jan 01
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Construction years: 1912-1988
Physical description: The following buildings/item survive on the site (as of 1997); Melrose House (c1897) Administration Building (1971) Drumtochty (c1890-1900) Workshop (c1900) Switch Board and Cleaner Store (cl950s-60s) Old Feed Shed (c1938) All buildings present as an integrated whole and provide interpretation and definition of a former working research station
The items on the property known as Melrose House, Drumtochty, and the Old Feed Shed have individual significance.
Melrose House, this single storey brick residence, constructed cl897, is a vernacular example of the Federation style. The house was symmetrically designed with the main entrance at right angles to Seven Hills Road and a circular driveway approaching the main entry, still in use. The building originally had a slate roof with terracotta ridge capping, and three false gables, one to each side of the verandah. Curved stairs approached the front doors. The false gables and verandah rail have since been removed, and the roof now has corrugated iron cladding. Cracking of brickwork due to subsidence is evident and attempts to rectify this have been made by the use of steel bracing and tie rods at the two front corners of the building. The interior comprises a central hallway, four bedrooms with open fireplaces, lounge room with open fireplace, kitchen and pantry, bathroom and laundry. The kitchen and bathroom have been upgraded. The other rooms retain much of their original fabric and integrity.
Drumtochty Constructed c1890, this would appear to be a vernacular example of a Victorian weatherboard cottage. It was refurbished in 1984 when it was relocated from elsewhere on the property to its present position. The roof has corrugated iron cladding. Ceilings were replaced due to water damage, internal linings have been replaced, and a verandah balustrade added. The skillion section at the rear was refitted. The building comprises two bedrooms, lounge and separate dining room, kitchen and family room. The bathroom has been modernised. The building throughout is in good condition and retains a considerable proportion of original fabric and integrity.
Old Feed Shed, this single storey, open-sided shed comprises rough hewn posts presumably sourced from trees on the property. The gable roof is clad in corrugated iron and the floor is paved with concrete. The roof structure includes sawn timber members, all exposed within the shed. The hewn posts, post heads and bracketing are typical of rural buildings largely classed as the style known as Rude Timber Buildings. The building is in good condition and retains a considerable proportion of original fabric and integrity. The property includes one of the largest remaining tracts of the Cumberland Plain Woodland in Seven Hills and one of few in the eastern part of Western Sydney (National Trust of Australia (NSW) 1997) (Olling 1997) (Partridge and Davies 1991).
Date condition updated:17 Mar 02
Modifications and dates: Most of the Research Station buildings and infrastructure has been removed.
Current use: Vacant
Former use: Working farm, Poultry research station, Soldier Settlement Scheme


Historical notes: The site of Grantham Poultry Research Station (former) was originally part of the Cumberland Plain set aside for use as Prospect Common by Governor King in 1804. The original grants that made up the property were made to Samuel Haynes - 50 acres and Samuel Dent - 50 acres. By 1897 the two 50 acre lots were owned by solicitor William Chadwick who built an out of town residence called Melrose designed by architect Mr B Hadley . Francis Martin acquired the property on 30 July 1906 and called it Grantham Poultry Stud. By 1912 the property was managed by James Hadlington who had an interest in poultry farming. Later that year he was appointed State Poultry Expert for the Department of Agriculture. Hadlington published a number of articles on poultry farming, including topics such as setting up a farm, feed, breeding and buildings. It would appear that he experimented with these concepts both at Grantham and Hawkesbury Agricultural College where he conducted research. Photographs of the area dated 1912-1917 show a predominance of fruit orchards on adjoining properties. Around the same time a foreman's cottage was built on the peak of the hill on the western corner of the then site. In 1917 the "Returned Soldiers Settlement Scheme" was established by the Department of Lands and involved the provision of farmlets for returned soldiers. Hadlington nominated the Seven Hills site as a property on which a state poultry farm could operate, with the surplus area subdivided into poultry farmlets for returned servicemen. The idea was accepted and the property purchased from Martin and Co. The property was subdivided into eleven five acre lots, 16 house lots, and the balance as the "Grantham State Poultry Farm". The Grantham State Poultry Farm operated as a breeding farm to provide stock for returned soldiers' farms throughout New South Wales, and also arranged the bulk purchase of feed and supplies for the surrounding 11 farms. In 1917-18 the Bachelors Quarters, comprising 12 cubicles for trainees, accommodation for the cook, a dining room, kitchen, shower, and conveniences. was built near the top of the property. Photographs indicate that prior to this trainees slept in tents. The Bachelors Quarters have since been demolished. A series of dirt roads led to the 11 farms. On each of the farms, weatherboard cottages were built with a gable roof and small front verandah. Poultry sheds and yards were in close proximity to the cottages. The farms scheme for returned soldiers proved unsuccessful, the small holdings were generally unworkable and the soldiers were largely untrained thus finding it difficult to make a living. In the early 1920s the Returned Soldiers Settlement Scheme was being disbanded and the various properties disposed of. In 1923 the Under Minister for Lands advised the Minister for Agriculture that Grantham Stud Poultry Farm was no longer required for the settlement of returned soldiers, and that alternatively it may be suitable as a demonstration farm operated by the Department. On 4 August 1923 the property, comprising, 46 acres 3 roods and 4 perches and valued at £9,000 including buildings, stock and plant, was transferred to the Department of Agriculture. In 1924 there were approximately 2,000 poultry farms within a 50 mile radius from Grantham. Hadlington noted that two-thirds of these farms were sub-standard, indicating the need for Grantham to establish itself as the model poultry farm. At this time, feed experiments were conducted on the property. Grantham continued as the "Government Poultry Farm" until 1939, with poultry stock, day old chicks, and eggs for sale to the public. After 1939, the Department of Agriculture agreed that feed would continue to be distributed to private poultry farms as well as those of the returned soldiers. This was later phased out. During 1923-1939, a new office building, machinery and feed room, and brooder houses were built on the site, and old brooder houses, a corn cracker, incubator, feed room, and building were demolished. In 1939 the main function of the farm changed from commercial breeding and sales to experimental work aimed at improving the quality of the poultry industry. The farm was renamed "Poultry Experiment Farm, Seven Hills". Circa 1946, the Australian Poultry Industry was in crisis due to low hatchability. The NSW Agriculture Department was asked to investigate the problem. Research undertaken at the Experiment Farm found Vitamin B2 and manganese deficiencies in feed contributed to low hatchability. These findings saved the poultry industry from major financial loss. It also brought international acclaim and established the estate as one of the top six poultry research centres in the world. Further research by Dr Malcolm McDonald, Dr Bert Sheridan and Dr Bob Pym had international influence and greatly enhanced the Australian Poultry Industry. Experiment work continued through the 1940s, including research into nutrition, broiler diets, genetics and poultry management. In 1960, in recognition of the work conducted on the property, the name changed to "Poultry Research Station". In 1959, Cumberland County Council rezoned adjoining land to the east and south from "Green Belt" to residential. The close proximity of dwellings made it difficult to operate the farm effectively. The property was renamed in 1981 as the "Poultry Research and Advisory Station". The name was again changed in 1983 to "Agricultural Station, Seven Hills". The property wound down in 1988 and the site was declared surplus by the Department of Agriculture and available for disposal. A proposed road deviation through the western portion of the site has been mooted since at least 1984. At some time presumably since 1988, the following buildings formerly on the site have been demolished. Motor Vehicle Depot Workshop (built late 1900s) Foreman's Cottage (pre 1925) Vehicle Storage Shed (c 1970) Annex Office (c 1939) Farm Mess Room (c l962) Chemical Store (1980s) Brooder House (c 1937) Lands Department Workshop (1980s-90s) Hatchery (1937-39) Random Sample Layer test Shed (1970s) ES RSLT Rearing Shed (1970-80) Machinery Sheds (1950s-1960s) DI Layer Shed (1950s) Rearing Pens (c 1950) Layer Shed A1 (c 1970) (National Trust of Australia (NSW) 1997)

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Aboriginal cultures and interactions with other cultures-Activities associated with maintaining, developing, experiencing and remembering Aboriginal cultural identities and practices, past and present. (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Science-Activities associated with systematic observations, experiments and processes for the explanation of observable phenomena (none)-
6. Educating-Educating Education-Activities associated with teaching and learning by children and adults, formally and informally. (none)-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. (none)-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Grantham Poultry Research Station (former) has historic significance as the focus of the poultry industry in New South Wales for over 70 years. It served as the base of operation for the State Poultry Expert from 1912. It has been a contributing source for the change all the County of Cumberland form orcharding to poultry farming. The site illustrates changes in agricultural use and government policy, from its operation as a private farm to its development under the Soldier Settlement Scheme, and its subsequent operation as a series of governmental research stations including its establishment as a model poultry farm. Since the time of early grants and ownership, the property has a continuity of use as a working farm. The original residence known as Melrose built by William Chadwick in 1897 is one of the early surviving farm buildings in the area and provides an important link to the early history of the area. It is particularly significant in the area as it is a substantial residence originally associated with a significant property and in its original relationship to Seven Hills Road.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The site is one of the largest open spaces in the area and contains a number of significant trees comprising of the Cumberland Woodland Plain. The adjoining Seven Hills Road served as a boundary line for the Prospect Common circa 1803. The road (and property) follow the ridge line and as it proceeds past the property it maintains a rural road aspect. There is evidence of cultural plantings. The two farm residences, Melrose and Drumtochty and the Old Feed Shed have aesthetic significance as good examples of rural structures that remain attached to their original farm property.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
It served as the base for training and stock and feed supply for local and other State Returning Soldiers Settlements during and post World War I. The site housed a wooden bachelors barracks that contributed to the rehabilitation and job reassignment of Australia’s maimed and intact young men returning from the fledgling nation’s initial involvement in a World War.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Some of Australia’s best known agricultural scientists achieved international reputations for work undertaken on this site. Scientific research into manganese and vitamin deficiencies and their effect on hatchability during the 1940s helped revolutionise poultry farming world wide and confirmed the NSW government’s involvement in agriculture research. The site became one of the leading poultry research centres in the world. Significant research continued up to the 1980s. Archaeological potential of the site is high as foundations remain for buildings associated with poultry research.
SHR Criteria f)
It is presumed to be the only poultry research station in New South Wales. Cumberland Plain Woodland is an endangered ecological community listed under the Threatened Species Act 1995. Less than 7% of the original distribution of the woodland remains
SHR Criteria g)
Base for state poultry expert, base for returned soldier settlement training and feeding and stock supply in poultry farming. believed to be one of the top poultry research centres in world. Stand of vegetation representative of Cumberland plain Woodland.
Integrity/Intactness: Four buildings remain in good order. Foundations remain for other buildings used for poultry research on site service road remains reasonably intact. Wooden Bachelors Barracks from World War I does not exist any longer but former location is known. Three brick footings belonging to the former Bachelor Barracks have been exposed. A memorial has been installed on that location. Base of concrete posts for main entrance to the site from c1920s to 1971 exist inside the boundary between Lot 4 and Seven Hills Road.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage registerDepartment of Agriculture    
Local Environmental Plan  03 Jan 92   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
State Heritage Inventory 5045272Heritage Office  No
Section 170 Register Study2002 Department of Agriculture  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenNational Trust of Australia (NSW) - I Hayes1997National Trust of Australia (NSW) Classification Card - Grantham Poultry Research Station (former)

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: State Government
Database number: 3040071

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